“You’re surprisingly eloquent”
“You’re beautiful for a dark skinned girl”
“You don’t look like an African. That’s good”.
“I don’t usually date fat girls, but I’ve always wanted to try one of you”
“I know if I marry you, you will leave that feminist stuff at the door so you can be a good wife”.
“Nobody likes an outspoken girl. It’s not attractive”.
I used to walk around with my resumé in my head.
What I means by that is, in every encounter, I came ready to explain why I was worth someone’s tenderness. Because I, and many women have heard one of those phrases above more than once. We’ve all heard multiple times why we’re too much of something, not enough of another, why we should make ourselves small and not take up too much space.
I used to walk around with my resumé, carrying myself around like an apology ready to make up for not measuring up.
“I know I’m outspoken about social injustice, but I can be soft and docile”.
“I know I’m black but look how well spoken I am”.
“I know I’m a woman but look how I can put my emotions aside and endure your abusive behavior. I’m strong I promise”.
Too many of us carry ourselves like we’re making amends for our existence, pleading for understanding, for compassion, for love. So many of us make ourselves fluid so we can melt into everyone else’s mold, be whatever they want so we can be loved. But we should never have to.
Please, do not go where you are not wanted. Take back all of you, every piece you’ve ever given away to someone to transform into their own fantasy. All the time you mistook abuse for love. All the times tenderness felt like a handout. All the time you made yourself a blank canvas for someone to paint what they pictured you to be. It’s too much work to belong to the world which wants you to be anything other than what you are, something more than what you are, yet never too much. Never take too much space.
Do not go where you are not wanted, do not walk around like an apology. Take yourself back, crawl if you have to, but leave. Leave every time someone makes you provide evidence for your worthiness. You were born with the universe in your bones. Please don’t make yourself small for someone else. Leave. Leave. Leave.
Isabelle Masado writes about body compassion on her blog "The Dear Body Project". She knows all too well that the personal is the political, is the community. As such, there is no discussing body compassion without talking about the assault on black bodies, trans women, and people with disabilities. Her mantra is, "How can I live in a way that makes room for you too"? She writes to examine, to heal, to redeem.